Special Report: Sex education

KIMT NEWS 3 – Shannon Keller from Cedar Rapids and her 10 year old daughter Brynn, have a pretty close mother- daughter relationship.

And that bond came in handy when Shannon started to hear some of the comments her daughter was making on one certain topic.

“And I could see she was kind of questioning things that she would see on TV or question things that people would say and what it meant and I thought now’s the time,” said Keller.

And so the day came to have “the talk”.

“Honestly we were driving on Blairs Ferry Rd in Cedar Rapids and I just finally decided that its time to have the talk and having worked in child psychology I didn’t sugar coat anything i told her all of the horrible things that can happen with physical, mental, emotional, everything a reputation you can get STD’s,” said Keller.

But you may be wondering is nine too young?

For Shannon all that mattered was that her daughter learned about sex from her.

“95 percent of it is building up their self confidence and self esteem but if they are in a situation they do make the right choice, they know what’s right and wrong, it’s just giving them the self confidence to be able to make that decision,” said Keller.

“They want to know can this happen or can that happen, and they basically want us to assure them that they’re exempt from teen pregnancy or STD’s or things like that and so we assure them that it doesn’t matter who they are,” said Donna Forsyth.

Donna Forsyth is the biology teacher at Charles City High School.

Her lessons also involve a chapter on sex education during the sophomore year.

It’s known as Human Growth and Development.

For this school district, it’s a subject that actually starts in kindergarten with the basics of just knowing your body.

By tenth grade, the kids are tested on just how much they know and if they’re ready, are taught all about sex and being safe.

“I just feel like our two weeks are really well spent from talking about the anatomy, going into relationships, talking about self esteem, and then knowing all the factual information that’s involved with std’s, teen pregnancy, and all the things that relate to that,” said Forsyth.

But is it working?

According to some of her students, some of it is soaking in.

“Just be careful because there is a lot of stuff that can happen to you a lot of deadly diseases out there too, yeah that is what I was thinking to there is so many STD’s and things like that,” said Brandon

Brandon and Faith are both sophomores at the high school.

And before Mrs. Forsyth’s class they were getting their information about sex from the outside world.

“Maybe from my grandma or grandpa at home and just kids around school talking about it,” said Brandon.

And that’s exactly why school leaders are choosing to step in to make sure their chosen curriculum is successful.

However, not all believe in teaching kids about safe sex others encourage students to wait.

If you go to a private school like Pacelli Catholic the lesson is a bit different.

President James Hamburge is in charge of teaching the fifth grade boys all about puberty and the changes they’ll be experiencing soon enough.

The one day pow-wow separates the boys and girls introducing the groups to videos illustrating what they can expect.

“Generally the boys know that its going to be the puberty talk so they all go to the back of the room and of course there is a lot of uneasiness, sort of looking at each other kind of giggling and so on,” said Hamburge.

Hamburge says the bigger talk comes in middle school.

What’s different is that at Pacelli their biggest goal is to promote abstinence and the value of saving themselves for marriage.

But Hamburge and other educators recognize that some are starting to see sex a bit differently.

“Everything from there are values regarding the role of sex and marriage, the values of reserving sex for marriage, but also the reality that they are STD’s,” said Hamburge.

But talking it out can raise awareness.

“And you never know the impact that you’re going to have because you don’t know what’s happening outside the school doors all the time but i really do feel like it does make a difference,” said Forsyth.

“And just be proactive rather than reactive because its better to have the talk with them now  when they’re ten then when they’re pregnant when they’re 15 or a father at 14,” said Keller.

According to Federal Education Reports most schools offer health education in grades 6th through 12th.

A large percentage of those schools say they focus on pregnancy prevention and HIV education.

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